Thursday, September 17, 2015

Flower Drum Song v.2

In 2002 Flower Drum Song was revived on Broadway with a new book. Mei Lei had a tragic backstory, Linda had a sassy gay assistant, and the roles of showman and conservative father were combined into that of the conflicted theater/club owner. The show received mixed reviews but received a stellar cast album and opportunities for regional licensing.

DAVID HENRY HWANG: "The show, which originally arrived on Broadway in 1958, had fallen off the cultural radar, regarded as quaint, patronizing and old-fashioned. But I had always admired Rodgers and Hammerstein's ambition to write a musical about America through the eyes of Asians, who even today tend to be regarded as perpetual foreigners. And notwithstanding shows like ''Miss Saigon'' and ''Pacific Overtures,'' which are set overseas, ''Flower Drum Song'' has long stood alone as the only Broadway musical ever produced about Asian-Americans....

Over time, we evolved the story of a rundown theater in San Francisco's Chinatown, whose patriarch clings to his dreams of performing Chinese opera despite an ever-shrinking audience. The story of this theater's transformation into a Western-style nightclub became a metaphor for assimilation."

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